FEATURE: Dan Perry on Breakdown | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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The Writers’ ARCADE is a group of emerging playwrights who meet regularly to discuss their work, share experiences and develop their skills. They have recently been awarded a grant from Arts Council England to support a ten month professional development programme.  As part of this, each writer will create a brand new one hour script that will be given a rehearsed reading at ARC. 

Writers ARCADE Rehearsed Readings will take place every Wednesday from 6 May – 24 June 2015. In this new series, we’ve asked the members of the Writers’ ARCADE to tell us more about their experiences of being involved in the group, the works they’re presenting and their hopes for the future. This time, Dan Perry talks about his work Breakdown. Words: Dan Perry.

As a young child with alopecia, seeing a diplomatic yet authoritative bald guy in charge of the Enterprise on Star Trek: The Next Generation was a massively inspirational experience and a life-defining moment came when my ten year old self was watching a TV interview with Patrick Stewart where he mentioned the RSC several times and subsequently led to me asking my parents to take me to see some of this Royal Shakespeare Company stuff…

BOOM!!! I was addicted.

Much like any addiction, my Shakespeare obsession led to harder stuff… Chaucer, Chekhov, Pinter and even a brief dabble into the Medieval French Playwrights, such was an all-encompassing obsession with the arts and, long story short, led me to a Creative Writing MA at Teesside University (via stints in Liverpool, Marseille, London, New York and Los Angeles… again, a long story for another time!) where I wrote a Short Play under the tutelage of lecturer Andy Willoughby called Staggered, which was eventually scratched at Arc in Stockton to massively positive feedback and led to an Arts Council grant to turn it into a full play and tour it around the North East. Staggered was a rip roaring success and thus, a student of theatre became a fully-fledged theatre maker.

Breakdown is my sophomore full length play, after having scratched a large number of short plays at the massively supportive and epic arts venue at Arc, Stockton over the years. Much like the Avengers, Arc assembled a group of us budding Playwrights, gave us mentors and geared us up for a run of full length plays as Rehearsed Readings. Breakdown is in its 3rd draft at the time of writing and I’ve been working on the piece under the tutelage of award winning playwright and BBC writer Ken Emson. Working with Ken has been fantastic and we’ve been taking the lead from David Mamet plays such as Glengarry Glen Ross and Speed The Plow whilst intertwining it with shades of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman and putting a contemporary modern slant on it; a play where a veteran and a rookie salesman have to drive from Bristol to Aberdeen to make a sales pitch the next morning in a faulty old car and contrasts traditional values against that of the new digital age. Essentially, Old School versus modern McCulture, but with a bit of a twist…

dan perry

“Much like the Avengers, Arc assembled a group of us budding Playwrights, gave us mentors and geared us up for a run of full length plays as Rehearsed Readings”

To write Breakdown, I’ve interviewed a great number of associates who spend time on the road and have been exploring their opinions on the blossoming digital world and how its expansion has changed business traditions and practices. It has been challenging at times getting the right balance between satirical overlay and comedy whilst trying to keep the storytelling fresh, but I’m excited to present Breakdown as it is still raw and fresh from being moulded. The Rehearsed Reading is essentially an open to the public performance of a rehearsal of the show and I’m looking forward to getting audience feedback from this work in progress. Every draft of the script has had a different lease of life and undertone and I’m excited to see the audience reaction on the night, particularly with one scene in the middle…

My ambition as a playwright is to make theatre that entertains – I believe that theatre, particularly in the North East is in the midst of a New Writing Renaissance and I want to keep getting work out there that above all captivates audiences and challenges the perception of theatre as “stuffy” or “boring,” to excite audiences by intertwining digital media with classical theatre. This rehearsed reading is only the first step for Breakdown and my plan is to take the audience reaction to the piece and fashion a digital framework around it in order to enhance it as a theatrical experience.

Come along Wednesday the 13th of May, grab a pint or a coke, have a watch and let me know what you think of the development thus far. It’s on as part of Arc’s Pay What You Decide theatre slate, so literally pay whatever you feel like

As my all-time hero Patrick Stewart would say… “Engage!”

Breakdown comes to Stockton’s Arc on Wednesday 13th May.

To find out more about Dan’s productions, visit his website.

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